Advent writings by Anastasis Jr. High

Team Fink reflections and writings about Advent

 

Love
My eyes open yet I see pitch black,
My feet are planted yet my muscles never move.
You are holding my hand yet you never let go.
I tell you, “run” yet your hand squeezes harder.
I am left here in the dark with no hope in sight,
You stay with me even if you could take flight.
Love pushes every boundary I ever set,
Feet planted, eyes blinded,
You shield me from death.
My eyes do not seek you because your touch is the only thing I’ve ever felt.
Love pushes every boundary I ever set.
I crave your hopeful touch yet we never met.

Another day another dawn
Running from dawn to dusk
Is this really the end?
Trying to follow the movies’ trend?
Lonely another dawn, another day
Here I lay, on a stone
Our favorite spot everyday
The tragedy, for you and me
Under the moon I say
I will see you another day

“Love is when two people dress up, put on nice clothes, perfume, and smell each other.”
“Love is when a boy sees a hot girl, goes to talk to her, but he gets all nervous and sweaty.”
“Love is how women bring men to their knees.”
“Love is physical relationship.”
“Love is an abusive relationship.”
“Love is mindless”
“I love you mom”
That really doesn’t sound right. It’s the same word. Does it mean the same thing? Be genuine. Love is a word that’s used improperly more than any other. It should be a word of deep meaning. Instead it’s a simple description. Christmas time is a holiday about love. The roots of it all. The true meaning. Show that love during Christmas.

Joy
I provide you with a pinch of laughter when you are feeling down
I give you a smile when all you can do is frown
I am not temporary, but I stay in your heart forever
I bring community
I bind people together
You all have me in your heart somewhere…
Just dig deeper and you will find me there
I am like a fire
I thaw your heart and sustain your glow
Don’t hide me, but let me show
I can be in the dark but light up a room
Remember I am not found in what you consume
Listen to me, I am not here to annoy
Listen to me because I am joy

Here… I am standing here, wondering the worth of my life. I can’t seem to think, my head is a mess and my pants are a little too tight. It’s Christmas Eve, I’m in a store but everything doesn’t just feel that right. One girl, one boy taking things off the racks thinking of it as nothing more than a toy. So let me ask you is this what fills our hearts with joy.

Joy does not simply happen to us, we have to choose joy and keep choosing it everyday. Think of day without smiling, laughing, hoping. Without joy we are numb at our hearts. Our minds would be frozen in time. Marianne Williamson says, ” joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good thing really are.” Joy can come from the simplest moments that you would never think of. Joy is not in things, it is in us.

Peace
My hands reach out to yours. But the wall between us is not made of breakable glass, but concrete. The wall has words on it. I see Hate and Fear on the wall. I cannot see you anymore. You have faded away. Gun shots. Sharpened knives. I look right and left but it is never-ending. When I look up, I see an eraser. I touch the wall and it crumbles. I see your hands and I hold them until they leave.

Oh my what is this
A wreckage of good bliss?
Not knowing if it’s true or not?
These people don’t seem like they have been taught
Is it my inner corruptedness
Or is it God showing me this
I see riots on the streets
Wondering if we need the navy fleets
I ask God what’s going on?
Without letting another bomb
We don’t know how this started or works
But by using peace we can solve the worst

Why are we always afraid of something? Is that what keeps us from having true peace? What if we had no fear? Is that what keeps us from having true peace? I think in order to have peace we have to have fear. We have to be afraid of something to find the peace in the midst of trouble.

Do not be afraid. Do not have fear. This is peace. Solitude to the soul, serenity in the spirit. This is peace. A calm state; a mysterious, wonderful harmony. Meditation of the mind. Love, joy, and hope through all. This is peace. I stand and the world collapses in front of me. Fear settles in the air and battle is about. I fall, scared, but a light covers my soul. The fear in me escapes, battle ends, and peace wraps me in it’s arms. It is finished. Now there is peace.

Peace is the absence of fear. Serenity, meditation. Our world is run by fear. We are always fearing something. But what if we could always be in peace. Fear is the only thing that we know how to do, but let’s bring peace into our world, let’s flip on that switch.

As I stroll through a snowy forest I look around and see snow trickling down onto the cold frosted ground. I listen to a chilly breeze that makes the snow-capped trees sway, and I hear in the breezy wind God whisper to me and say peace be with my child. I walk and hear the crunch of the half-frozen snow beneath my feet. The truly Serene area that we can find in this world of chaos is truly a time of peace and solitude. I listen one more time and hear nothing but a bird chirp in excitement, I look and see a winter wonderland.

Emmanuel
My arms cradle him
This baby boy will free us from sin
He smiles at me so I smile back
Why shall a king be born in a shack
Lying serenely in a box of hay
This baby boy will never stray away
I look at my husband in awe
I see the star the shepherds saw
I give him a hug, a tender embrace
Before King Herod and his men start the chase

As I walk through the darkest valley, I see God everywhere. I see you, God, a light filling a room of darkness. I see you, a drop of water within a fire. I open my heart to you and see you everywhere. Emmanuel, Emmanuel, Emmanuel, you are with us in the darkest times.

Do you forget how to pray?
How to be with God all day,
even when you are distracted
by noise, crowd, hurry. Repeat
this word. Emmanuel, Emmanuel, Emmanuel.
God is with us. Emmanuel is a reminder
to the world. That no matter
what God is always with us.
In time of fear Emmanuel
In time of noise Emmanuel
In time of crowd Emmanuel
In time of hurry Emmanuel.
Emmanuel God is with us.

God is with us. He came to save us. He came to free us. Make us new and cleanse us. He wraps us in His tender love. Creates a reason to have joy.  Allows us to have peace and is the reason for hope. Emmanuel. While the world spits evil and doom into our life God brings us light through darkness and whispers, “I am with you.”. The one word that will keep us going. The stronghold and beautiful, incredible Christ. He was, is, and forever will be… Emmanuel. Rejoice he is always with us.

Poverty Walk- Student Reflections

Last week, Team Fink went on a poverty walk hosted by Network Coffee House as part of their Power of One inquiry block. It was an incredibly eye-opening experience that built empathy and community. Below are student reflections of the day.

Poverty walkIMG_6218

Angelina B- We are so quick to judge others, but have we ever put our selves in their shoes? When we see someone on the street corner holding a sign for money, what is your first thought? All they want is money for drugs. They just dressed up like that to get money. Society tells us that homeless people are bad, scary, lazy. But have you heard their story’s, why they did what they did. We act as if we haven’t done anything bad in our life. We held up a sign that says, ” Anything helps.” I got dirty looks from people in there car, not one person in their cars looked like they cared. We did get one dollar from someone, but that person wasn’t in a car. It was a homeless man who gave it to us. The person I would not think to give me anything was a man who was homeless. I had only herd things about the homeless that people have told be about them. The bad things they do, stealing, hurting others, braking things.  We only see their 10% and don’t try to look for their 90%. We are so quick to judge others, but have we ever put our selves in their shoes?

Izzy-    Today we went on a poverty walk at The Network. It truly was an amazing experience. Even bad experiences can be used for good. Fear can transform into lessons. I especially liked holding the sign, because it showed me how we are. How we just go on with our lives and not pay attention to who and what is around us. Even the people who have nothing are willing to give. The walk put us in a vulnerable position, but it is good to out yourself into other people’s shoes. Stereotypes disappear when you become part of it. It doesn’t seem so strange anymore, just different.

Angelina H- The poverty walk opened my squinting eyes to the world of poverty surrounding me. The most impactful thing was holding the sign up. People just looked at me, and kept going. I was really put into the shoes of someone who is forced to do that. Watching other people, and praying, and learning, was all a new and amazing experience. Being upper middle class, and still looking around to make sure I was safe, I couldn’t imagine what being homeless would feel like in that situation.

Macie- This experience opened a new lens of humility and empathy into my life. The assumptions that we have for the homeless are not all true. I met some giving homeless people who don’t have as much as we do. We were only out there observing for about an hour, but it happens everyday around us. We have so many opportunities to help, but we are too lazy. Like the video we watched this morning showing that one person can make a change can make a difference. Just one drop of love can overflow the sea. It only takes one person to recognize that not all homeless people match up to who we think they are. One man showed his kindness through asking us how our day was and took the time to talk to us. Today I held a sign on the side of the road and a woman who drove by started cursing and yelling in her car toward me. Why do we have such a stern, hardened heart towards people who need a little love? If we were thrown out in the streets after being in our warm, comforting homes, I bet we would never walk past a homeless person again and feel disgust and assumption in our hearts. We are in our own personal bubble filled with possession and money etc. The homeless popped that bubble and have been through experiences that we would never dream of while we are wrapped in our cozy blanket sitting next to a fire. We are all interconnected so why not help one another.

Student reflections on Expiditionary Learning: Moab

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Last week our 6-8 grade students traveled to Moab for four days of expeditionary learning. Below are their post-trip reflections. Learning outside of the classroom is powerful!

Team Anastasis in Moab

Moab has given me a spark. We always talk about the trips and how much they mean to us, bonding, hiking, climbing, and being adventurous which is probably what you’d expect from a bunch of middle schoolers going on an out of state trip. What the casual observer doesn’t realize is the spark, the spark in the eyes of everyone that went on the trip telling their favorite story or memory, the spark of an adventurous kid not needing responsibilities or to feel like a grown up, but who can just be a kid. This is the spark of someone who’s experienced community and solitude, adventure and relaxation, I see this spark in the eyes of every one of my classmates after these trips, after the adventure. The spark of adventure, and passion, and courage, and power, and joy.

Moab was such an awesome experience. Not only did I enjoy the planned hikes (which made me feel accomplished afterwards) and the astronomy class, but the little moments as well. Jumping in the river, eating pizza and blasting music at midnight, and laughing around the campfire were just a few of the special moments I will remember forever. I enjoyed this trip as much as if we would have spent thousands of dollars on a fancy vacation. All of my classmates have made every moment complete. Weeks of planning and preparation for this trip may have seemed stressful and hard, but it was all worth it in the end. This trip made me realize how much I love all of my friends and every moment I spend with them, and how much I will miss them when life goes on.

Spending time in Moab was not only a great time to bond with our classmates, but it was a time of peace. I really enjoyed going to Moab this year, not only was it one of my highlights yet I would like to go back very soon. My favorite thing I did on the trip involving our group was probably bowling. The reason for that is I got to learn lots about the others around me through small talk that never would of happend if it wasn’t for these trips. I thought it was really cool, and I hope the best for my classmates that are moving on.

I sit alone, breathing in the warm desert air through my nose and out through my mouth. In and out, in and out, in and out I listen to my slow, rhythmic, breathing. I listen to the birds, hiding in the cover of the trees and shrubs. I listen to the wind howling through the canyon, blowing years upon years worth of dust and sand into my eyes. I watch two lizards darting through the rocks chasing each other. I look out over the valley and sigh contentedly, and for the first time in a long time I am content, I am at peace.

Moab! It was such a fun trip. There was lots of excitements like riding in the van, doing hikes that we didn’t want to do, and lots more. One of the many highlights was jumping in the river and having fun with my classmates. I had a really fun trip because I got to bond with my classmates and I have the chance to really connect with them before I left for high school. It will be so different leaving for high school and not to have the special bond with them like I did on this trip. It is easy to say hello hard to say goodbye. It will be hard not to have such a tight community when I enter high school and I will have to start all over again and find the right group. It is hard to say goodbye to a person but people who mean a lot to you or like family is going to be extremely hard.

“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and the music in its roar; I love man not the less, but nature more.” -Lord Byron  From its incredible arches to its fun, flowing river, Moab was beautiful. I loved Moab because of its glory but also because I got to enjoy it with my friends before we go our ways. We had great times and had fun with the simple things. We grew even closer and it will be harder to separate. Moab was a great trip and full of exhausting hikes that in the end were worth it. Each arch with its own shape, none the same, were spectacular. Each cactus dangerous, yet were amazing. Each tent holding people who got to see this beauty and I was one of them. Moab was fun and a piece of God’s work. “On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it.” -Jules Renard

Going into the Moab trip I was really excited. I had never been on a car ride for that long but when we were about 2-3 hours in I lost time and had fun with my class. When we got to the site, we saw that we were by a river! We were super happy. It took around and hour to 30 minutes to set up camp, then we hiked up to corona. This was my favorite arch because I had seen it almost everywhere and I was finally here. We walked around and saw Morgan. Who we hate now. The first day there was amazing. The campfire that night was a cool experience.
The next day we went up to arches national park and hiked around there. I had a enjoyable time talking with everyone. After the hike we were all exhausted and I fell asleep in the van. Later that day we stopped for some yogurt and the park. We also swam in the river and jumped of a ledge. I flipped and hit my face on the water but it didn’t hurt. The second day was a blast. We played mafia that night at campfire and did speeches. That night it was super windy and I hardly got any sleep.
3rd day!!! We had a big, tiring day ahead of us. We hiked 11 miles and at first I was not excited, but it was entertaining getting to know everyone again. That night we went bowling and I did really bad, but on the bright side, I had so much fun playing pool and it made me happy when I went up and everyone said, “come on flacco!” We drove to the astronomy place and we had a fun conversation on the way there. That was probably one of the best things ever. All the girls crashed that night. The next day was sad. We were leaving. After a long time in the van everyone was really bored and sad. It was great to be home but sad to be away.

Wyoming was a trip getting to know everyone, Santa Barbra was a trip to get closer as a class, and now Moab was a trip being able to say our goodbyes. It is amazing how far we have all come as a class and now our year is pretty much over. There were so many amazing experiences on the Moab trip. My favorite part of Moab would have to be the whole Wednesday. The 14 mile hike was really hard but I actually kind of enjoyed it. And after that hike we were able to go bowling. I had so much fun playing bowling and pole and then going to the parking lot. Then to top it off we got to go look at stars and drive home listening to music and lighting glow sticks. Moab was a trip I will never forget.

We all need to stay connected to our inner solitude. Although, staying connected with others is entertaining, solitude is vital for us to be able to have inner peace.
Nature is peaceful. It does not talk nor think, but makes us think. This mindset of discovery in nature brings knowledge of not only God but ourselves. We should take advantage of our earth while we still have it before the pollution of humanity kills.

Universal language, connection with nature. “I want to be able to look at and into a juniper tree, a piece of quarts, a vulture, a spider, and see it as it is in itself, devoid all of humanly ascribed qualities even the categories of scientific description.” (Edward Abbey) Get away from man’s way, find peace in the music of nature. Wind. Dirt. The river’s song. Calm and beauty are found in the black, protecting sand. Beauty is found in every speck of rock that curves and forms the arch. Be still, find peace in God’s work.

One of the best things a person can do (In my opinion), is to get away from the everyday garbage that consumes our lives. The constant rush, the pressure, the endless business. We ought to go away and experience nature’s extravagant beauty. The trip to Moab we just went on was an opportunity to do this, escape, to get ourselves lost, enclosed in the wilderness. The truth however is our regular life is full of borders, pressure, and schedules. Things we are taught to live by. They maybe necessary at times but these things kill us. These things flatten our lives. Cities are cool and all but towers of rocks and trees are much more awe inspiring than the twisted towers of metal we dream of building. Animals are better than cars. Nature is a medicine, a quiet place to think. An endless border less place to explore.

Groundhog Day by Team Fink

Today Team Fink watched the classic “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray. There were some great discussions and reflective writings as a result. See them below:

A glass is half empty, A glass is half full. Today we watched the movie Groundhogs Day and it showed me that life needs to have meaning, or else it’s pointless. The movie groundhogs day shows us we need to stop focusing on ourselves and focus on what really matters, the people around us. In the movie Phil is tested through that, and he is required to step back and stop focusing on his self. This relates to all of us because we all focus on ourselves, and we need to step back and realize that. So how do you look at it? Are you a glass half empty, or a glass half full?

Life is only well lived when others’ lives are included. We try to find fulfillment in materialistic things. When we live our daily lives, even the smallest things can be done for only ourselves. Even when we help others out, sometimes it can only be done because we appreciate the benefit they give us, and fear their rejection. A quote from Marianne Williamson says, “Ego says ‘Once everything falls into place, I’ll feel peace.’ Spirit says, ‘Find your peace and everything will fall in place.'” The man in the movie focused so much on making himself happy, he even did it at the expense of others. With also this attempt of trying to be happy, he failed. Although I can’t recall the name of the person, I heard a quote, “Materialism clouds the vision of those with a weak mind.” I feel like before hand, Phil was not happy. He was always, conscious or not, looking for his happiness. Even though it was well hidden, he secretly needed these course of days to happen. He wanted happiness and he wanted material things. But just as materialism tried to take his life, he accidentally found happiness with who was around him’s happiness. I liked how the movie portrayed his cluelessness of his days of sorrow. He had no idea of his metaphorical death/dying. As when he said, “Well what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one, today.”

Our faith gets put to the test when we strive for anything but God. I truly believe that we are self indulgent and we only care about ourselves. That is why we are short of perfectness. We need to be part of the world but not in it.
We have different perspectives on what actions we do to others. We need to think before we act. We need to have a purpose in life. Maybe not us but I need to think lower of myself and higher of others. In the book The Alchemist we don’t need to stare at the oil but pay attention to life and our surroundings. The point of Groundhogs Day is to pay attention to others and not ourselves because we have a purpose in life. I actually like Groundhog’s Day because it is a day to think outside of my life. We try to strive for materialistic things in life that have no meaning at the end of time. It is the little things in life like the materialistic objects that keep humans striving, but God is allowing the devil to make that happen. We get caught up in life and that’s why I love this quote: “It’s the same thing every day, Clean up your room, stand up straight, pick up your feet, take it like a man, be nice to your sister, don’t mix beer and wine ever, Oh yeah, don’t drive on the railroad tracks. (By Phil Conners)” We are robots and we try to do everything right, but we always fail.

The moral of the excellent movie Groundhogs Day is so that we can realize we are all caught up in ourselves, instead of paying attention to others. Phill the human was just like Phill the groundhog. They both payed attention to their own shadow and what’s best for them, but eventually Phill found himself trapped and unsatisfied. When he came to the point when he was depressed, felt vexation, and was dead, he opened up to and focused on others. While doing this he figured out he was happier and he was no longer focusing on himself. This is what we should all do. Don’t look in that shadow, let your heart be spring, not winter. “What if there is no tomorrow, there wasn’t today.” (Quote from the movie) Live each day to the fullest and each day live with out horse blinders on. In my life I sometimes get caught up in what I’m doing or where I’m going next, but that is meager and we need to at least give a trifle of time to recognize others. “Some people look at this glass as half empty, but some see it as half full.” (Quote from the movie)  See the glass as half full and don’t look at it half empty.

We don’t like to admit it, but I think we like to just think of ourselves and not others and we should enjoy our lifes. You only have one life, we should actually love it and live it to the fullest. We like to just think of ourselves. In the movie, a guy named Bill that Phil meets said, “You know most people think of a glass half empty. I think of it as half full.” Then Bill said to Phil, “I think you of your glass half empty.” We like to just think about us and we don’t think or even try to understand other people. In this movie, Phil seems like he kind of likes his life, but he always wants more, his wants to be better. It took him a while, he tried a lot of different ways to be happy. None of them worked until he actually took the blinders off and looked around himself. He looked towards others and thought about them. Selfishness doesn’t get you anywhere. We also need to understand, what a great world we have. We should stop and enjoy life, cause it isn’t going to last forever. At the end Phil looked out the window and actually took the time to enjoy the beauty from outside. He realized how beautiful it could be.

In the beginning Phil is half empty. Once he discovers this never ending Groundhog Day at first he treats it like a joke, eating copious amounts of food and smoking. He soon turns to material things stealing money, drinking and driving, and women. We can relate this to addiction, how after going through hardship people try to console themselves with alcohol or drugs. After a while though, something happens that will change his life. He decides his glass will be half full, after seeing the struggle and pain he’s gone through he helps ease the struggle and pain of others. He becomes a local hero in Puxswatawney, saving lives and helping people daily. In the end he finds true love and once he learns to be a good person life goes on.

The movie Groundhog Day is a movie about taking and not taking things for granted. Phil wasn’t thankful that he was there for his gig. He just bulldozed along life without a care about what was around him. But after a while he figured out that that wasn’t the point of re-living the day. He moved on and tried to help people as much as he could. He was in agony of defeat when the old man died, but that lady didn’t even have a care in the world about him. She was selfish too. Everyone is selfish. The movie is trying to get the point across that maybe we are so selfish and we take things for granted, and for us. We need to realize what is around us and not take that for granted. Even his suicide showed his emptiness and selfishness, hoping that the day would stop repeating and it would all be over, but it didn’t. He needed to just let go and think of other people. But he did let go, “I don’t worry about anything anymore, that’s what makes me special.” I am selfish a lot too. Maybe I am the one who needs to let go and help other people. His behavior was condoned, but ours probably won’t be if we don’t make the right choices.

Groundhog Day was a funny yet meaningful movie. The movie is about a weatherman named Phil who is sick of life and just wants to get everything over with. On Groundhog Day he goes to Puxsutawney to do a news story about it. He soon gets caught in a loop reliving the day over and over again until he can find a way out. I like how at first when he realizes he’s in a loop he decides to do whatever he wants too and try to pick up as many chicks and break as many rules as possible, but after that he realizes that isn’t what makes him happy and starts trying to kill himself over and over again. Happiness isn’t received by earthly items, money, sex, breaking the rules and getting away with it. When he can’t get out he finally decides to do whatever he can to make it a great day and help as many people as possible. The message behind this is live every day to the fullest. Not every day has to be another meager crappy day. Phil discovered what he could do in just one day, imagine that for your entire life. We get so caught up in the loop of society represented by the ever repeating Groundhog Day. If we stopped and took time to make the most out of the life we could do amazing things. When Phil is hanging out with the drunk guys one of them says you’re one of those glass half empty people are you Phil sees that he’s been really a downer. We need to be glass half full people and treat every last day like its are last day before death. “Today is Tomorrow”.

The “things” that make the world go round may not give you the joy that you expect. Phil at first was selfish, buying cars and trying to get girls, but he realized that is not what makes him happy. He realized that that isn’t this purpose in life, even though society tells us it is. We are told that we should do all these things to get whatever we want, that rules, regulations, and not getting what you want is bad. But maybe it’s good. Maybe having boundaries is what holds our world together. If we didn’t have rules and laws, crime rates would go up. The world’s happiness goes down. Even if in this moment it seems as if not getting what you want is bad, in the long run for our entire universe it might just be a good thing. The three men in the bowling alley are like society, telling Phil, “There would be no consequences!” But it ends up with him being unhappy and suicidal. Helping all those people and the homeless man is what really made him feel enlightened and purposeful. It is hard for us to think that rules are beneficial and that riches of man are not what gives us hope and happiness, but we have to look past that and be aware of the actuality of what brings us joy and keeps us in place.

Musings from Team Fink

Journey
My feet trudged along the dusty path. Every once in a while, it felt like my feet would stop moving in sudden immediacy, and my journey would abruptly stop there. Every step my feet took me, I peered forward hoping to get a scent as to what lay ahead of me, but there lay a deep fog. I managed to see subtle blurs and predict what the fog may hold in store for me, but nothing was certain. At some times I couldn’t identify what was inches from my nose. I’ve walked this path thirteen years, and have revealed new experiences in the new fog, new people, and new places. Everyday I walk this path, unsure of what I may uncover in the fog ahead of me, the fog I like to call the Future. I may not know what is buried in this fog, but I know for certain that I’ll continue to walk into the fog although it may seem scary at times. Yes, I may sprain my ankle or I may have to replace my feet with a wheelchair at times. Every step is a brand new step, even though I may turn my head to see the footprints that I have already made. I believe that while every step may grow a little weaker and I will get older, I will want to stop my steps. The fog ahead of me may finally get into my head, but I look around me. I realize that I am not alone. Friends and family surround me looking deep into the fog just as I do. They give me a shoulder to wrap my arms around, and I do the same. Some may leave and walk into a new cloud of fog, and some’s path may stop there, but some stay right here with me. Sometimes I’ll look deeper in the fog and see a light. A light that somehow whispers through the darkness “Do not be afraid, for I will always be with you. I will walk the path step after step with you.” This light tells me to love how it loves me, to help as it has helped me, and to tell others about this light’s love and glory.  — Katie

Utopia
A calm, starry night fell upon a small, but wealthy town. A girl with coarse hair and dark eyes sits on the porch of her small family home. “Any minute,” she says to herself. “He will come for me.” Sitting quietly, she gazes at the starry night sky. What felt like hours later for her, a dark, cloaked figure approaches the small girl. “Come,” he says, holding out his hand. She takes the hand of the figure and follows him, knees buckling and heart pounding. Down a steep rocky road they go, into the beyond. As they approached the portal and stepped in, she finds a world much different from what she expected. She was aching with pain. All around her was fire, death, war, hatred. The child exclaims at the figure, “You promised me a world. A world that I would love. A utopia!” She collapses with anger. The figure darkly chuckled and spoke. “A utopia, huh? Didn’t you know your world was a utopia? People loved you, cared for you. You had everything you could ever want. Love. You traded everything you had for another world. The world you had was created as a utopia!” The girl wailed. The figure removed the cloak that covered his face. Underneath the cloth was a tortured, lonely face. “I was just like you,” he started. “I was in the clouds. I was loved, I had anything I could ever want, but I wanted more. A utopia. I gave up all I had just to have more. And guess what I got? Nothing. A greedy one, I was, and you, the same, but you will learn your lesson. Just as I did. You had a utopia, you just did not see it. You were loved!” He screamed at the girl. Then the tortured figure disappeared, leaving the child in the twisted world of hatred.  — Izzy

“Broken”
I see it, coming for me out of the darkness. As it comes towards me time slows, my brain which was until now seemingly dysfunctional, abruptly starts. I move out-of-the-way, behind me where I was standing seconds ago a long black shaft sticks of the thick concrete wall, inches from my face. I start running, my survival instincts take over. Every few seconds I hear methodical thunk noises which I perceive to be arrows. I hear him, the man yelling out in the darkness. “I will break you!” I sprint forward, every bone in my body aching. I find my target in the inky darkness. I jump, lashing out with the last of my strength. As my clenched fist connects with the figure I yell. “I’ve been broken before!”  — Jacob

A string of laughter
A string of laughter vividly bouncing on each and every stone. Flying throw the pink peddle trees. It comes from a little girl in a white dress. She is sitting on a rope swing. With her long black hair in a braid. She sits there laughing at the way the crystal blue water moves in the stream. At the way the purple flower peddles blow away in the wind. A little boy in all black sitting with his white hair all in his face. He comes out of the darkness into the light as the darkness slowly drips of his body as he turns white. laughter flows into his body as life forms the earth. The boy went to go sit with the girl on the swing. When the boy sat the girl turned into a red string. When the boy touched the string the laugh of the girl would fill the air. The boy would then stand up and walk away. When the boy returned to the swing, he wished the girl was still there with him.  Every year the boy would bring back the string, and ever year he would get older. Now as a grown man he lives his life in a small apartment in a small city not to far away from the swing. He live his gray life, boring and simple. Every day after work the man goes to his apartment. That is gray, black, and white with only one red room In the red room is all his art, all his art from his hole life. In every painting, drawing, picture was the girl.  He would always paint her back, he would never painted her face. His son would sometimes come by to say hey. The son would always ask why you can see her face? The man would always say ”you’ll see” on the last day the son father would ever see him again, the son said why can you see her face? the man would say this one more time, but this time it would be different. This time he would say, ” it’s not for you too see.”In the last year of his life he brings his grandson to the little old swing where the girl once sat. He tied the now light pink string to his grandson’s finger and asks him “what do you hear?” The grandson says, ” I hear nothing.” The grandfather smiles. — Hope

“Broken”
Broken, broken is a thing that happens to us
mentally and physically. Well I am not talking about getting cut or broken bones. I am talking about be broken mentally. How we get broken mentally It doesn’t just last 8 weeks like a broken bone. It can last a longer time and it can hurt more than getting physically hurt. We can change that broken thought but we are so caught  up in this human mind-set were we just pout and mope about it. Instead of that we can fix that thought. This broken thought that always try’s to find its way into our head. And most of the time we believe that broken thought. We always can turn to God for help. And if we can overcome that broken thought the gift you had in the beginning is even greater in the end. “Amen”. — Coben

Journey
A journey is like an adventure…
My family loves to travel around the world. We enjoy to learn about God and to have excitement in different cities. You might know me a football player, but I also love to hunt. One day I hope to travel to South Africa, Argentina, and New Zealand to hunt and explore the world. I think of traveling to a place to learn about religion or serving others. Music is a big part of culture and religion. My family was in Israel for two weeks experiencing  culture, religion, and most importantly God. One night my dad and I went into old city Jerusalem to listened to different kinds of music. We stayed up way too late. It was a memory I’ll never forget. journey is experiencing exotic places and food. that can be our perspective of journey, but maybe it is having a journey in faith and with God. We can have a journey with Christ in many ways.  Praying, listening to God, and doing what he says are all ways we relate to Him. Going to Israel was a huge change for me because I got to experience the holy land. I got a better perspective of his land, His people, and his love through traveling to this special country. — Josh

😄A String of Laughter😄
One web of emotions. Tangled in my mind. Every day one string of my web is picked out and untangled from it.  After it is gone the spider finds room to spin another string of that emotion and keep it there tangled like headphones after you stuff them in your pocket. After funny story, a fun day with my closest friends, that one string that is so strong it never breaks, so long it never runs out. The one string of the web that the spider lives for. The one string it never has to spin again. What emotion and string it loves the most. The string that keeps you alive and rich in spirit. It’s my string of laughter. — Angelina

Lord of the Flies
Boys some were in this world searching for something that’s inside of them. The hot star with creepers following them though out this world. They call something that lives with them a beast something following their tracks something that has thirst for fear but they don’t know it’s them. The beast tests Them with fear and the head of fear scares Them to the point were the live on savageness the fear picks Them out like Vultures picking Them bit by bit. If lonely they let the beast go. — Mason

Broken
Some things are broken, but do all things broken have to be bad? Broken can be beautiful. A picture of broken glass can be amazing and sometimes we just have to go through hard, broken times to see beauty. The oyster got sand in his shell, yet he didn’t sit there, being lazy, having a broken time, but he tried to improve it and it turned into a pearl. I think of broken as an item that is destroyed. Instead it is really something that seems bad at the time, but later can turn into something wonderful. Some days will be broken, but it can make good days even better. So do all things broken have to be bad? Well if your asking me the answer is no, because some of the broken days or items are the most fantastic. Vance Havner once said, “God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength.” This is incredible because it proves that broken items are actually giving. Broken can be beautiful. — Megan

Utopia
We as humans strive for perfection and we always say ” If we could change these couple of things it would be perfect, the world would be different, we could be happy for once”. However we are never fulfilled and or selfish, greedy human nature is always wanting more and putting ourselves ahead. We think if we were the king we would do things right, people say communism could be done right if they were in charge, but power corrupts the soul and is never not abused. Power makes us even more greedy and we crave more and start thinking differently, but for the worse. The lie we tell ourselves, the lie the world tells us, the lies of politicians and the lies of media. What becomes better, what fixes the world will fall apart, from the top of the world, from the mightiest of empires comes destruction and all things will fall. The idea of a perfect world is completely unreachable and will only cause conflict, more fighting, unrest, and what may eventually lead to utter and complete destruction. The nature of man, the sin at our core, cannot allow for perfection. We always crave more than others no matter how holy we may seem. From the days we were born we’ve been crying and craving and being selfish. Our human nature will always want more than others, it will always want to be a step ahead of everybody else. It cannot agree with equality and a world that is completely fair. Evil is in this world and we cannot get rid of it. It’s always there and it will always be urging our sinful human nature on. A perfect world in fact might turn into an even bigger catastrophe than what we started out as and the mightiest societies may fall because of the root of evil within. We cannot bring heaven to earth. The only perfect world is not of this earth and it will always be the only home to holiness and true perfection. We who crave perfection so much are the reason it can’t exist. Mankind is sinful. Mankind cannot create perfection. Things will not get better. I’m sorry to say they will not. We may improve and be strong at times. But we will fall apart and start over again. It won’t improve. The world starts and grows and starts again and grows but every time it falls apart and we get more selfish and corrupted. We may not see it but we are not aware. We say make a change and we don’t do anything. What appears perfect is flawed. In a perfect world do you need equality? Should all things be fair? Are people allowed to be rich? To make a fully perfect world so many things would have to exist in a way that is impossible to create on earth. The world will never be perfect, we will never have Utopia. What we can do to improve the world might not be within government of anything like that but stepping down and making small changes that improve people’s lives. What can we do? The world is sinful and there is a perfect world waiting for us but what we do shouldn’t be fixing the world itself but changing people’s lives and the small things.  — Joseph

Student Voice: Hayley

Hayley is a primary student at Anastasis Academy. Today, she shared her view of Anastasis.

Anastasis Voices

Noelle and Hayley

 

“I like to use the iPad to do my learning so much. What I really like is that we do plants, we get to grow them. That inspired me to grow plants at home. Now, instead of doing a lemonade stand in the summer, I’m going to do a plant sale.

The work [at Anastasis] is fun. It’s never boring here. I like that when we do things I have choices to do it. We don’t do the two sided worksheets and that’s all. We get to do learning all different ways. I like how we do math here because I actually understand it. It helps me be smarter with math.”

Prayer is a Conversation, Not a Speech (student post)

Prayer is a Conversation, Not a Speech

|by Emma P, 8th Grade|

 Prayer is something we as Christians often do; however, the importance of this has been forgotten by many. It’s wretched to think that people have come to think of prayer as something that is required of them. Prayer should be esteemed and special to those who pray. Praying is a dialogue with God, but are you listening? Are you just talking at God? These questions are the catalyst to many more questions, such as why do we even bother to pray? Why doesn’t God always say yes? Why doesn’t he talk back? These are all outstanding questions to ask, however, we don’t search enough to actually discover the answers. Prayer is definitely not an easy topic to wrap our heads around, and we need to look at it from all angles.

 

As a wise person once said; “When you pray, move your feet.” This is an old African proverb that many treasure. This proverb explains that we can’t just pray for something and expect God to do it all for us, we have to help if we are able. For example, if you see someone who is starving on the streets, you can’t just look at them and think, “Oh, that’s too bad for them, God, please help them.” Of course, that is a fine thing to do, but if you have some food that you have no need for, you should give it to them. The Bible states in Matthew 25: 45; “He will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”

The Lord’s Prayer is a lighter to ignite all of your other prayers. There are six simple words that are key in the understanding of this prodigious prayer; worship, surrender, petition, confession, warfare, and thanksgiving. These principles are something that should be taken to heart, as these are what we usually include in our prayers. Most stick to one in particular, the most common being petition. The type that I most often stick to is thanksgiving. There is something about prayer that makes me think of only thanking and praising God, and rarely asking for anything. As we studied this topic, I came to realize more and more that I wasn’t putting everything I could into my prayers, they all sounded the same. As I mentioned earlier, the Lord’s Prayer being a lighter is a bit of a confusing concept, yet is actually quite simple. This prayer was taught to the disciples in Matthew chapter 6, verses 9 – 13, when they asked Jesus how to pray. Therefore, it was a perfect prayer, and had the ideal balance of the six principles that describe it. These principles, when combined in a prayer, can make it extraordinarily powerful and memorable. “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding.” We as Christians would do well to memorize this verse, found in 1st Corinthians 14: 15, as it teaches not to just say whatever comes to mind to just get it over with, but to think and to make the prayer meaningful. As a Buddhist monk once said, “We should only speak if we are improving the silence.”

There are four stages of praying that are imperative to a phenomenal prayer. The first stage says that I talk, you listen. This stage is quite straight-forward, saying that I talk to God and he listens to me. The second states that you talk and I listen. Again, this has a pretty clear message, saying that God is talking to me, and I am listening. The third is about neither of us talking and both of us listening. This quote found in the Alchemist sums this stage up nicely; “The Secret of Happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon.” This means to be aware of what’s happening around you, but to always zoom in on what’s important. The fourth and final stage is that neither talks nor listen. This is the mindset that many adopt while meditating, basically just being focused on your inner being and getting lost in the moment. This can be interpreted differently depending on your religion, your personality, and many other factors. Many are stuck between stages one and two, which is merely habit for some, but something entirely different for others. I personally have gotten to stage four, which is to just get lost in the moment. This is a natural occurrence to me, because I am quiet and calm by nature, and I like to think that I treasure every moment. You never know when something might go away, so you should enjoy it while it’s there.

Prayer and being close to God can look different in numerous religions. Many religions develop their own style of praying, such as many Hindus meditate to get closer to God. These are unequivocally diverse, but they all have a similar root. For example, Muslims always pray in the direction of the Kaaba in Saudi Arabia while bending down to show their submission to God. Buddhists meditate to be more familiar with their inner beings. Christians fold their hands, close their eyes, and bow their heads to pray. All of these types of ‘prayer’ have a common denominator, which is awareness. This is something that is highly valued in many religions. Although, I feel that these are all blanket statements of a sort, because not everyone prays the same. I prefer sitting in nature and just being calm over folding my hands and doing all of the stereotypical ‘Christian’ paraphernalia, and this might be similar to many people of all kinds of religions, whether they believe in a God or not.

Anthony De Mello, a writer who is famous for his profound writings and unfathomable knowledge, wrote many stories about prayer. There is one in particular that I like, which is one about a shoemaker. This shoemaker worked hard day and night, and found he never had time for his prayers. He went to go see a Rabbi to ask him how to fit in his prayer. The shoemaker said that while he was working, his heart would let out a sigh, a sign of longing to be close to God and to talk to him. The Rabbi said that a sigh is valued much more than a prayer, because many pray just to get it over with, but this shoemaker had an honest desire to talk to God. This story showed me that you don’t always have to be in a certain position to pray, you don’t always have to even talk to pray. It’s sometimes hard for us Christians to understand this concept, because prayer has become more and more of a burden and less of a relationship and a closeness that God and humans alike crave.

Prayer is particularly challenging to comprehend, so we have to examine all of the bits and pieces it’s made up of. Prayer is a sacred bond between man and God, and it should be respected ad infinitum, though sadly, it has become more of a habit than anything else. As I elucidated throughout, prayer is a type of awareness. It’s also a time to be honest with God. He doesn’t always want to be thanked, he wants you to approach him with your questions and give over your weaknesses. He wants to be more than a friend, more than a brother with you. Doesn’t this make you feel special? God has chosen you to love, you to nurture and you to cherish. He wants you to come to him as you are, not as someone you are pretending to be! I see prayer in a whole new light now, and I long to be closer to God, as the mystery of his great power is what keeps us wondering and yearning to be close with him.